Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Game Conference Day 2

The sequel to my Day 1 report from the New Game, HTML5 Games, conference:

The quality per session has been really great, and the good news is that Videos are on the way, so if you weren't there, don't fear. Also, here are most of the slides.

Zynga kicked today off. They're dedicated to HTML5 games, reaching lots of people, and moving the web forward. Paul Bakaus pointed out that classic games devs get people to upgrade hardware; new web games need to get users to update to modern browsers, "Please help me upgrade the web".

Zynga has also open sourced some rather handy sounding tools: including audio fixes/hacks for ios, viewport control, custom viewport scrolling assist libraries.

Grant Skinner has put out tools too: Easle.js, flash like api primarily to draw to Canvas 2D, though he demoed swapping out rendering engines to e.g. DOM & flash too. He also demoed exporting content from Flash.

Spil had a good talk about developing for and publishing in Asia; primarily challenges in hosting, distribution, and localization (beyond just text).

Opera's Erik Möller showed off WebGL support in Opera, including a demo off a TV set top box hardware kit.

Mozilla has a cool project taking a spin on their old question of "Are We Fast Yet?" and changing it to "Are We Fun Yet?" Their Palidin effort is designed to improve that answer. They're building an open source web tech game engine and implementing platform features such as Mouse Lock and Game Pad. Similar in ways to the Chrome Games effort I'm part of.

Rachel Blum of Chrome (ex Blizzard) did a great rundown of Chrome as a platform for games, now and in the future.

Overall, there was a lot of energy, excitement, and potential shown off. Several presenters demonstrated that they are monetizing now using some of this tech. Others that we still have lots of potential in tech that's not quite ready for everyone.

I'm psyched about fixing what needs fixing to make the web platform awesome for games. And tomorrow there's the W3C Games Community Group Summit which I'm hoping will be a great forum for prioritizing that work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Game Conference Day 1

New Game's first HTML5 Game Conference kicked off today. It's an intimate and comfy affair with just a few hundred devs all packed in one large room. It's easy to mingle in breaks, and we had lunch all together on the lawn at Yerba Buena park.

Rich Hilleman, EA, kicked things off with a great keynote discussion of what it takes to build out a game platform and how things are quite different doing so with open standards tech. It was inspiring, but also underscores the challenge of building a 'platform' when no one controls it. Who will champion a killer app? Who will define the capabilities and expectations for developers and customers, and do quality assurance? Who will make certain we can monetize and distribute? Well, no one, and everyone.

The other business heavy presentation was from Justin Quimby of Moblyng. They've already been at this a few years, with the goal of using web tech to reach a huge number of devices, primarily mobile. His main message was that of the many challenges that await after you've build a compelling game. His recommendation was primarily technical conservatism and diversification of services (e.g. payment solutions, metrics, and distribution).

But the majority of the presentations were technical. The biggest points and themes:

  • Garbage Collection a major performance issue! Several techniques to avoid this, including careful JS coding, all memory out of array buffers.
  • Sound! Much love for Web Audio API, but needs support in all browsers.
  • Many developers using high level frameworks and languages and cross compiling to HTML/JS. E.g. PlayN in Java, Mandreel in C++.
  • WebGL standard update coming, major focus on security and robustness.
  • 2/3rds of attendees from Web Dev background:
Lots of good coverage on twitter #NGC11

Slides for many presentations are already posted if you dig around, but I saw cameras so I suspect we'll see a post conference set of links to videos.

[day 2 post]